Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Please Excuse Eddie From Blogging....

Dear Readers,

I'm going to be posting a lot less frequently here, due to the fact that I'm now officially in the midst of OPENING A RESTAURANT.

Yes, it's official. I've posted fleetingly about this here because I didn't want to get too ahead of myself, but we closed on the purchase of the existing restaurant last Friday, the lease is in place, the brown paper is covering the windows, and I'm officially working full-time toward getting the place open early-to-mid-September.

I'm still going to be blogging...in fact, I may pick up the pace a bit, but not here. I've been using a different blog to document the buying-a-restaurant process for a while, and now I'm going to use it to document the opening-a-restaurant process. I plan on trying to write over there almost every day. It's a much more train-of-thought, journal-style blog, so it's a lot easier to crank out a quick post in a half hour.

So, given these circumstances, I would like to now take this opportunity to notify all of you that I probably won't be reviewing bacon, analyzing the difference between using half-n-half vs. heavy cream in homemade ice cream, or reviewing Julie & Julia any time soon (ok, I made up that last one--I am SO FREAKIN' SICK of hearing about that damn movie. Can it open already so people can stop prattling on endlessly about it? Damn!)

So. In conclusion. If you want to keep reading me, go run over to my burger blog and check me out over there. I'll still post here, but probably only a few times a month for a while. And mark your calendars to start counting down towards the opening of my burger, fries, and shakes joint in Evanston.

The concept? The short explanation I've been giving everyone is "Hot Dougs meets Five Guys". That works. We're going to be grinding our own beef fresh every day for burgers, cutting potatoes fresh throughout the day for fries, hand-dipping corn dogs and beer battering onion rings, and mixing up shakes and malts on the old fashioned spindle mixer. It's going to be low-key, non-chain-feeling, and inexpensive. We'll also do classic Chicago style dogs, Maxwell Street style Polish sausages, beer-simmered brats, and some fun toppings for the fries.

Anyway, thanks for reading, see you after the hiatus, and come find me over at the burger shop blog.

See you there!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Me to Michael Pollan; "You're an Elitist Gas-Bag"

Yep, that's right. The ethical-eating authority, best-selling author, and Food, Inc. star muffed one. And I'm calling him on it. I'm no authority on anything (except maybe Italian Beef sandwiches), but there it is.

I'm actually a big fan of Pollan and his writing. I loved The Omnivore's Dilemma, recently saw Food, Inc., and have kept current by following articles he publishes every now and then. The guy's really well-informed and has a lot of worthwhile stuff to say about how we eat and how we should change our approach to food.

But in his most recent article, published last week in the New York Times, Pollan screws the pooch. Big time. Not only is he just flat-out factually wrong in about six different places, but in his attempt to find a scapegoat for the current sad state of affairs in how Americans eat, he targets feminism. Specifically, Betty Friedan.

(Not that feminism, broadly, or Friedan, specifically, is above criticism. They're not. But neither are they guilty of what Pollan tries to pin on them. More to follow.)

That's not all, though. In his (mostly justified) rants about The Food Network (Lord knows I've made my feelings about the network known), he gets enough details about the shows wrong to allow careful readers to realize he doesn't actually know what the fuck he's talking about. It seems like he had a research assistant watch a few episodes and report back or something, so he wouldn't have to lower himself to actually watching "low culture" like Iron Chef or Triple D. Who knows... maybe he switched the network on and left it running in the background while he flipped through the recent issue of The New Yorker.

And, really, that's where Pollan's article rubbed me the wrong way. The whole thing has this condescending, scolding, elitist tone that really muddies the message. The article is hung on the framework of discussing the recent film Julie and Julia, but he uses the film's subject matter as a jumping-off point to continue the national discussion of our broken, dysfunctional relationship with food and eating that he's been prodding us to have for years. Most of what Pollan's got to say is right on the mark. All his major points are true and, yes, need to be written about, discussed, and changed.

But having a Long Island born-and-bred, Northern California-dwelling Berkeley-tenured ivy tower male like Pollan lecture middle America about why they're morons for watching The Food Network isn't a great way to move that discussion forward or get people to listen. And blaming Friedan's Feminine Mystique for re-framing our approach to cooking causing generations of women to view it as "drudgery" isn't a great way to get feminists, stay-at-home-moms, or working women to take what you're saying to heart.

I'm going to quote liberally from the article and simply respond, since this is what I found myself doing as I sat in front of my computer screen reading it. Overall, it's a thought-provoking piece containing lots of valid points and valuable insights. But in the name of a good rant, I'm going to focus just on the parts that really got the hairs on the back of my neck standing up, starting with the one that's drawing so much ire all around the net:
Curiously, the year Julia Child went on the air — 1963 — was the same year Betty Friedan published “The Feminine Mystique,” the book that taught millions of American women to regard housework, cooking included, as drudgery, indeed as a form of oppression.
This is the quote that's gotten Pollan into trouble with the feminists and has bloggers and twitterers of all stripes buzzing. I don't take issue with the sentiment behind it--neither Friedan nor feminism is anything approaching a sacred cow with me--but it's just flat-out factually incorrect. Dead wrong. Bzzzzt! Thanks for playing, Mike, you can pick up your parting gifts on the way out.

Saying that Friedan's book "taught millions of women to regard housework...as drudgery" is just drastically, laughably, misleading. The post-war years prior to 1963 saw women emerging as a huge sector of the workforce and factories that had been geared up for the war effort re-tooling as production facilities for all manner of convenience food products. The booming advertising industry was quick to jump in and assist in the food industry's effort to convince women that food preparation was drudgery to be avoided at all costs, and did so with incredible effectiveness. All of this was well-underway by the time The FM was released in 1963. There are entire books dedicated to documenting this phenomenon and what gets me is that I'm confident Pollan is not only aware of them, but has read them.

Which means that his scapegoating of Friedan and feminism is lazy at best. Perhaps he didn't want to stretch an already-very-long article to more fully flesh out the various parties who really were responsible for this negative re-frame of cooking. A less charitable read, though, could view Pollan's choice as a cynical attempt to co-opt negative sentiment towards feminism to bolster his cause, or maybe just as a way to drum up some controversy and get people talking.

Regardless of which explanation is accurate, it's some weak-ass shit from a guy I expect far better from. Incredibly enough, a few short paragraphs later, he says:
Many of these convenience foods have been sold to women as tools of liberation; the rhetoric of kitchen oppression has been cleverly hijacked by food marketers and the cooking shows they sponsor to sell more stuff.
So Pollan acknowledges here that other forces were working to portray food prep as "drudgery", not very long after trying to blame the whole thing on Friedan. But who had more influence in the early 60's? A feminist writer or "food marketers"? Which enjoyed more circulation--The Feminine Mystique or magazines like Women's Day and Family Circle?

I spent an enlightening if somewhat depressing hour on the phone with a veteran food-marketing researcher, Harry Balzer, who explained that “people call things ‘cooking’ today that would roll their grandmother in her grave — heating up a can of soup or microwaving a frozen pizza.”
Another cheap shot in an attempt to make a valid larger point. I admit to having more limited knowledge than this Balzer guy, but I've never heard anyone refer to microwaving a frozen pizza as 'cooking'. It just seems like Pollan is taking the easy way out to make his point.

...you do have to wonder how easily so specialized a set of skills might translate to the home kitchen — or anywhere else for that matter. For when in real life are even professional chefs required to conceive and execute dishes in 20 minutes from ingredients selected by a third party exhibiting obvious sadistic tendencies? (String cheese?) Never, is when. The skills celebrated on the Food Network in prime time are precisely the skills necessary to succeed on the Food Network in prime time. They will come in handy nowhere else on God’s green earth.
This comment misses the mark for me on two levels. First, the shows he's discussing--Iron Chef America, Chopped, and Top Chef--do not claim to be instructional cooking shows. They're billed as entertainment. Although the recipes are often made available online after the show airs.

And second, the ability to improvise and construct a dish or meal from random ingredients *constantly* comes in handy in real life. I do it ALL THE TIME. It's a great skill to have and shows that give contestants a basket of unlikely ingredients and challenge them to compose a tasty dish with them can, yes, be instructional, but--and this is even more important--they can be inspirational, especially to home cooks who find themselves fishing around the bottom of the freezer with a hungry family due to arrive home any minute.

I guess a guy like Pollan, who probably only shops at organic-humane-eco-friendly-localvore farmer's markets hasn't ever found himself in that situation. Must be nice.

We learn things watching these cooking competitions, but they’re not things about how to cook. There are no recipes to follow;
Arrgh! HUGE pet peeve! Learning how to cook isn't about following recipes! Are you KIDDING me, Michael? This statement actually makes me wonder if *you* really know how to cook.

Or as a chef friend put it when I asked him if he thought I could learn anything about cooking by watching the Food Network, “How much do you learn about playing basketball by watching the N.B.A.?”

Um....tons? But besides all that's learned by watching, the more important point is that watching often inspires people to get out there and PLAY. What a dumb, dumb comment.

What we mainly learn about on the Food Network in prime time is culinary fashion, which is no small thing: if Julia took the fear out of cooking, these shows take the fear — the social anxiety — out of ordering in restaurants. (Hey, now I know what a shiso leaf is and what “crudo” means!) Then, at the judges’ table, we learn how to taste and how to talk about food. For viewers, these shows have become less about the production of high-end food than about its consumption — including its conspicuous consumption. (I think I’ll start with the sawfish crudo wrapped in shiso leaves. . . .)
And the hits keep on comin'. It was at about this point in the article that I became really aware of Pollan's insulated bi-coastal sensibility. I'm not saying that he comes off as a totally out-of-touch, holier-than-thou elitist, but...um...yeah...actually, that IS what I'm saying.

Listen, I've barely ever even seen crudo or shiso leaves on menus and I've been a chef for 15 years. I had to go look up sawfish to find out what the hell it is and the first thing I find out is that it's critically endangered and is completely banned from international trade. Where the hell is this Pollan guy eating? What's next? Is he going to drop a reference to the last ortolan feast he went to?

His point here his valid, but it gets completely lost in the underlying messages he's cluelessly broadcasting about himself and the perspective from which he approaches his work.

Sure, Guy Fieri, the tattooed and spiky-coiffed chowhound who hosts “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” ducks into the kitchen whenever he visits one of these roadside joints to do a little speed-bonding with the startled short-order cooks in back, but most of the time he’s wrapping his mouth around their supersize creations
Again, Pollan doesn't allow reality to stand in the way of his scapegoating. I happen to watch D,D&D almost religiously and I can attest to the fact that Fieri almost always speaks with the owner or chef, that he's sincerely respectful of their success and their "creations" and that he possesses a solid enough kitchen background to know exactly what the folks he's interviewing are talking about--something that probably couldn't be said of Pollan. Fieri doesn't usually interview "short order cooks" and his characterization of the restaurant staff as "startled" reveals Pollan's ignorance of how the show is filmed (restaurants featured on the show close down on the day they do the "kitchen shoot" so no one is being caught unaware).

“I love that after a day where nothing is sure — and when I say nothing, I mean nothing — you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It’s such a comfort.” How many of us still do work that engages us in a dialogue with the material world and ends — assuming the soufflé doesn’t collapse — with such a gratifying and tasty sense of closure? Come to think of it, even the collapse of the soufflé is at least definitive, which is more than you can say about most of what you will do at work tomorrow.

Ok, I haven't seen the movie and I assume Pollan has, but I'm not sure how he gets souffle from egg yolks, chocolate, sugar and milk. Maybe that's what Julie Powell was talking about, but soufflés, which do usually contain some egg yolks, are more characterized by the presence of egg whites, which are whipped stiff and then folded into the mixture to give the soufflé its essential poofy rise. I've also never seen a soufflé recipe containing milk. When I hear a recipe described as "yolks, chocolate, sugar, and milk getting thick", I think chocolate mousse, not chocolate soufflé.

I'm telling you, I think this Pollan guy DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO COOK!

Since 1967, we’ve added 167 hours — the equivalent of a month’s full-time labor — to the total amount of time we spend at work each year, and in households where both parents work, the figure is more like 400 hours. Americans today spend more time working than people in any other industrialized nation — an extra two weeks or more a year. Not surprisingly, in those countries where people still take cooking seriously, they also have more time to devote to it.
Oh, but it's all Betty Friedan's fault that women view cooking as drudgery and reach for Rice-a-Roni or canned soup. Gimme a freakin' break!

Shapiro shows that the shift toward industrial cookery began not in response to a demand from women entering the work force but as a supply-driven phenomenon. In fact, for many years American women, whether they worked or not, resisted processed foods, regarding them as a dereliction of their “moral obligation to cook,” something they believed to be a parental responsibility on par with child care.
Gosh, I just can't imagine why feminists like Friedan would portray this sort of mindset as a form of oppression. Uh....maybe because it IS one? Sheesh, Pollan, can you contradict yourself MORE?

Chunks of animal flesh seared over an open fire: grilling is cooking at its most fundamental and explicit, the transformation of the raw into the cooked right before our eyes. It makes a certain sense that the grill would be gaining adherents at the very moment when cooking meals and eating them together is fading from the culture. (While men have hardly become equal partners in the kitchen, they are cooking more today than ever before: about 13 percent of all meals, many of them on the grill.)

Yet we don’t crank up the barbecue every day; grilling for most people is more ceremony than routine.
Ugh. The dreaded use of "barbecue" as a synonym for "grill". A bigger pet peeve doesn't exist in my world. More evidence the guy's not a cook. Attention, fancy, multi-degreed writer guy; "grilling" is cooking food quickly directly over live flames. "Barbecuing" is cooking food slowly with low, indirect heat. They aren't the same. You grill a burger. You barbecue a pork shoulder. Look it up.

Rant over. I'm done here. Read the article and lemme know what you think. My take on it is that Pollan didn't do his normal standard of due dilligence. Maybe the grad students that usually do his research for him are all on summer break.

Either that, or he's trolling.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Visit Number 10,000

That's a direct cut and paste from my sitemeter in the title above. Hooray for me, ten thousand visits have been logged to this site. Nice of the folks over at Wrigley to notice. When can I come sing the 7th inning stretch?

All things considered, I'm not even sure that 10,000 is a lot for the amount of time we've been open for business, but it feels like a big number and we're celebrating and feeling festive about it over here at C&EinC corporate HQ. Bourbon and blackberry ice cream may soon be busted out.

I'd like to take this opportunity to now thank a very special person, the distinct individual who was my 10,000th visitor; to you, person in unknown state, country, and city, someone who apparently did a Google image search on the term "SMOKEHOUSE" and somehow got linked to my site, and whose visit consisted of 1 page view lasting zero seconds, I say....

Thanks. Nice knowin' ya. Come on back, now.

The bloggers know all about the statistics and analytics that are available. I just have what they offer for free. It's crazy stuff. Mr. SMOKEHOUSE's info wasn't there, but about 75% the visits do give me info about the person's state, city, country, and often their ISP and/or the name of the business. I've checked my sitemeter and discovered that my wife or my mom is reading *right at that very moment*. Spooky.

It's kind of voyeuristic. I don't have that many visits (50-70 a day) that I can't recognize some of the individuals who come through fairly often. You get to imagining what that person in Auckland or Bettendorf is like, checking in nearly every day, using their XP or Safari operating systems, and I can't help but fantasize about how after that person from Kraft or Panera reads my site and becomes a big fan, they'll be calling me up to offer me a high-paying job any moment. More likely, though, it's just some staffer loafing on the job.

I can also see how people enter and leave the site, so I get an idea of where my traffic comes from. I can tell when friends check in via my Facebook page, especially if they do it from work, where the ISP and IP address are more likely to tell me the company name. When people log in from home, it's almost always just "comcast" or "cox cable" or something, so it's harder to tell who's who.

I can see how all this info could be really useful to people trying to generate orders or business through their site, but since I'm not doing that, it all just comes across as kind of surreal and nosy. Is it really my business what screen resolution the guy using Road Runner in Temple, Texas is running? Is it worth my time to speculate about whether the person reading me over at the University of Pennsylvania is a professor or a student? And why does that same address from the EPA keep popping up? Are the feds monitoring my carbon footprint?

Oh, and then there's my most loyal customer...the one who comes back time after time, never missing an article, yet not bold enough to write a comment and try and break the plane of the computer screen by engaging in a discussion. Perhaps someday I can meet this person, my most loyal reader and fan. You know who you are.....anyway, thanks for reading from your home out there in Mountain View, California.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Almost Meatless Virtual Potluck--Potato Corn Chowder

I met Tara Mataraza Desmond at the food writing symposium at The Greenbrier in May. Tara's book, which was published by Ten Speed Press in April is called Almost Meatless: Recipes That Are Better for Your Health and the Planet. It looks nice. I haven't read it, but Ten Speed always publishes lush, beautiful books, and Tara seems like she knows what she's talking about.

I also follow her blog, Crumbs on my Keyboard, and when she recently contacted me about taking part in a virtual potluck, where a whole bunch of food bloggers cook and blog a recipe from the book, and then everybody would publish it all on the same day, I said "cool idea. Just send me a recipe involving bacon."

So she did. But it also has silken tofu.

Of course, I left this until the last minute (it's supposed to be cooked, photographed, and blogged by tomorrow), and with all the other stuff I've been up to lately, I was pressed for time. First thing I had to figure out was where to go to buy good bacon (it only calls for two strips, so I figure I need to use the real stuff), the aforementioned tofu, as well as a fancy ingredient like chives. I didn't need to be going store to store to find stuff, so I was thinking that I was going to go to Whole Foods, but I doubted that they'd have real (read; cured) bacon, rather than that nitrate-free celery juice crap, so I headed over to Sunset Foods in Northbrook.

I make it a point to really never go to Whole Foods, because I spend way too much time and money in there, and the place just pisses me off out of general principle. I can't help but feel like I'm teetering on the brink of the fall of the empire when I'm in a WF, do you know what I mean? It's just such a big, overblown spectacle. It disgusts me, and yet I also love it. And then, later, I feel bad about loving it. Food shopping is just not meant to be that nice. I'd make an exception for this sort of thing, but to be honest, I'm relieved I thought of a better option.

Sunset is (or tries to be) just as fancy and upscale as WF, but they also carry everyday items like Diet Coke, Kraft cheeses, and Cheetos. I did indeed find good bacon (Neuske, long overdue review to come), silken tofu, and chives, so Sunset was the right place to go, but I wasn't overly impressed with their offerings. It's a high service place--they have people that put the food on the conveyor belt for you--but I'm much more interested in the food. I'm always game for a few impulse purchases in a new grocery store, but even though I hadn't eaten all day, nothing looked all that good to me, especially for the prices they were charging. I ended up with two pretty full brown paper sacks for around fifty bucks.

Besides the ingredients for the recipe, I picked up the makings for a salad, a loaf of sourdough bread to go along with it, and a few other things.

Almost Meatless' Potato Corn Chowder

Serves 4 to 6

2 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice

6 ounces silken tofu

5 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

salt and pepper

1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

4 cups chicken stock (page 131)

1 bay leaf

3 (2-inch) pieces parmesan cheese rind

1 small bunch chives, minced

Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven or large saucepot over medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the fat renders and the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon bits from the pot and set aside.

While the bacon is cooking, combine the tofu with 2 cups of the corn and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Add the onion to the bacon fat left in the pot, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the onion is completely softened but not brown.

Add the potatoes and the remaining 3 cups corn, along with a heavy pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and stir to combine. Add the stock, bay leaf, and cheese rind, bring the liquid to a boil, and then reduce the heat; let the soup simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. Remove the cheese rind and bay leaf.

Working in batches, puree about half the soup in a blender or food processor. (Or blend partially with a stick blender in the pot.) Return the pureed soup to the pot and stir in the pureed tofu and corn mixture. Simmer for 10 more minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. Top with chives and reserved bacon bits.

I liked the flavor of soup. It had a lot of good sweet corn flavor. Basically, the jist of this recipe is that you take the silken tofu and puree it with the kernels from 3-4 ears of corn. This tofu "creamed corn" subs in for the cream and milk that would normally go into a chowder and makes the end result healthier.

By now, everyone knows that trick of cutting the kernels off the cob in a bowl, right? It works.

If I did this recipe again, I'd remove half the solids, then puree the soup well and add the chunks of corn and potato back into the soup. I pureed the whole thing a bit too far, I think, and the finished dish didn't have the characteristic chunkiness that you'd expect from a chowder. Doing it this way is easier (I just used my stick blender, rather than the food processor that the recipe calls for), but I think a smoother soup would be worth the effort.

It's hard for me to follow recipes. I found myself virtually unable to avoid adding some diced red bell pepper to the onions as they sauteed gently in the rendered bacon fat, although I did manage to restrict myself to only using Tara's proscribed two slices of bacon. Which wasn't easy. But it actually was enough since there was plenty of smoky bacon flavor throughout the soup.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the others bring to the virtual potluck!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Blackberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream (with recipe!)

I've been working with the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid and having some success. My first take, an attempt at strawberry, went horribly wrong, resembling more of an icy, frozen mousse than ice cream. It tasted fine, but the texture was awful.

More recently, I've been working with blackberries. I made this blackberry ice cream recipe prior to leaving for our recent jaunt to the North Woods, and then I made it again, with the addition of sour cream, yesterday.

After the problems I had due to not properly chilling my mixture the first time, I've been letting it sit at least overnight before spinning, with improved results. Overloading the bowl is another pitfall I quickly learned to avoid.

I've been doing some reading about making ice cream and learning. Many people recommend allowing the mix to sit in the fridge for 24 hours before freezing, and say that this 'curing' of the batter ensures a creamier product. I also hit my mixture with a stick blender right before I churned it, per another website's recommendation.

I learned that the term "overrun" refers to the amount of air that's incorporated into an ice cream while it freezes. The longer the freezing process takes, the more air is whipped into the mix. Italian gelato gets it's luxuriously smooth mouth feel from its lack of overrun, and for me, the denser and smoother an ice cream is, the better, so that's what I'm working toward.

Using the KA attachment on the mixer's lowest speed ensures the quickest freeze time, and therefore the lowest amount of overrun, since the ice cream mixture stays in contact with the freezer bowl longer. Turning up the speed helps in avoiding ice crystals, since the mixture freezes more slowly and uniformly, but this also whips more air into the mixture. Also, as I learned with my batch of strawberry, that never fully froze, the KA's freezer bowl thingy only has so much time before it's not cold enough to perform. This is one huge drawback of the "freezer insert" style of home ice cream makers. You can't just add more ice and salt.

Making fresh fruit ice creams really smooth and creamy is even more challenging, due to the additional factors the fruit brings and how they work against smooth creaminess.

If I'm making a fruit ice cream, I want the flavor to really pack a wallop, so I use a LOT of fruit. I'm using stuff that's in season, and is inexpensive, and that's the point is to enjoy it and really concentrate its flavor as much as possible when it's available.

I also want to use the fruit in its *fresh* form. The first strawberry ice cream recipe I tried involved cooking the fruit down and making a jam, essentially, which was then mixed into the ice cream base. To me, that misses the point of using fresh fruit, which brings all sorts of wonderful flavor notes that disappear when cooked. Cooked berries are nice, but they are a distinctly different taste than fresh ones. It's the fresh flavor that I'm after here, so all the recipes that I'm using involve pureeing and straining out lots of seeds.

But these choices about flavor have a trade-off; the finished product will be less smooth and creamy. Raw fruit freezes to ice crystals, and pureed fruit is always going to lend a more sorbet-like quality to a finished ice cream. That being the case, I need to really try and maximize the techniques I use to ensure what I make is as smooth and creamy as it can be.

Making ice-cream is a very technique-heavy process. Each time I do it I'm surprised by the amount of bowls, strainers, and rubber scrapers that I use. Lots of moving things from one place to another.

Blackberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream

1 C half-and-half
12 oz. sour cream
1 C sugar
1 C heavy cream
4 egg yolks
2 quarts blackberries
1/2 a vanilla bean
pinch salt

1. Mix yolks and half the sugar together in a bowl.
2. In a saucepan, heat half and half, cream, the remaining sugar, scraped vanilla bean, and one pint of the berries. Scald cream, allow to simmer for about five minutes. Remove from heat for a couple minutes. Remove vanilla bean. Puree with stick blender. Strain.
3. Temper warm cream into yolk-sugar mixture, whisking quickly while adding a bit of warm cream, then more, to ensure eggs do not curdle. Return mixture to sauce pan, put on medium heat, and cook slowly, stirring with a rubber spatula until the mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon.
4. Strain the ice cream mixture into a shallow pan or bowl set in ice*.
5. Puree remaining fresh berries with stick blender. Push through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds. This should yield about 1 1/2 cups of seedless berry puree.
6. Cool mixture thoroughly. Once cool, add berry puree and sour cream, whisking to fully incorporate everything.
7. Allow to chill overnight in the coldest part of the fridge overnight or for 24 hours.
8. Process according to the ice cream maker's directions.

*lots of advice out there about cooling the mixture down as quick as possible. the bowl set in ice appears to be key. Some say to hold back 25% of the cream and pour it in cold to aid in cooling, but then the proteins in the cold milk won't have been denatured during the scalding process, which is also supposed to aid in producing smaller ice crystals and yielding a creamier product. Ice cream is all about trade-offs.

That's a good recipe, adapted from the one I linked to above. I'll keep working on it, but I've also found a few other recipes that look pretty nice.